The Facts on… Staplers

Perhaps the best known and most widely used stapling tools are anvil staplers; the humble, general purpose office stapler is one of these. As the name suggests, the stapling head strikes against an anvil that crimps the staple legs together and back against whatever is being stapled. This ensures the staple contents are held securely together and prevents the sharp ends of the staple legs from causing injury or damage. Anvil staplers also often have a reversible anvil so that the legs can be splayed outwards. This is called pin stapling and is a more temporary, removable option favoured by the legal and financial professions.

An office stapler will often be designed to sit on a desk and downwards pressure is applied to the stapling head, but a variation of this design more commonly used in post rooms and industrial environments is the plier stapler.

Plier staplers work much in the same way except the stapler is held in the hand and two handles are squeezed together to apply the staple. Heavy duty plier staplers such as the Stronghold® SHR31 are also capable of sealing the flaps on small cartons.

There’s another two variations of anvil stapler that are worth mentioning. One is the pneumatic anvil stapler, which features an extended throat that enables staples to be placed a considerable distance from the edge of the packaging – for example, stapling the lower edge of deep header display cards. Staple guns such as the Stronghold® SP50-A will allow stapling six inches in from the packaging edge, and feature a deeper stapling head jaw that allows the staple to be applied near to a raised area of the packaging such as the lip of vacuum formed plastic trays.

The Stronghold® SP50-K brings even more versatility with a selection of easily-changed anvils used for different purposes. In addition to the flat anvil of the SP50-A there’s a raised anvil which enables a staple to be applied in an area that is recessed on both sides of the packaging. The SP50-K also includes two curved anvils (left and right hook) that enable the staple to be placed at an angle that would be impossible with a straight anvil.

The other variation of anvil stapler is the treadle stapler, used for stapling the bottom flaps of cartons before they are filled. A treadle stapler such as the Stronghold® TRED27 is operated by a foot treadle, but for more extensive use it would be more common for a pneumatic treadle stapler such as the Stronghold® TRED27AIR to be used.

Treadle staplers are floor-standing and the anvil is almost as deep as the stapler is high. This, and an extended throat, give plenty of room for large cartons to be stapled. The carton is partly erected and placed upside-down on the anvil so that the staples penetrate the carton from the outside. A treadle stapler also leaves both hands free to hold the carton in position with its flaps correctly aligned.

The top flaps of a carton require yet another different type of stapler. The staple legs still need to be crimped but as the carton is closed there’s no access for an anvil. A carton stapler incorporates a mechanism in the stapling head that crimps the staple legs from above. For sporadic use, a manual carton stapler such as the Stronghold® MAN27 is generally sufficient but once again, a pneumatic version such as the Stronghold® AIR27 is recommended for extensive use as it will substantially reduce operator strain.

Carton staplers can also be used instead of treadle staplers for sealing the bottom flaps of cartons. We recommend using a Stronghold SHBS box support if sealing bottom flaps with a carton stapler. This is an all-metal pedestal table with a square or rectangular top surface covered with blunt, tapered spikes at regular intervals. The spikes hold the carton firmly in place yet allow the staple legs to crimp without obstruction.

Another type of stapler you’re likely to encounter is the tacker. This is used to fire staples at high velocity into solid materials such as wood – in the packaging sector this might be for attaching labels to wooden crates or securing the edges of weather-protective plastic sheeting to pallets. They are also used for  mounting printed canvases to wooden frames and upholstery fabrics to furniture. As the staple legs remain straight, no anvil or other crimping mechanism is needed. Most tackers feature a flat foot that rests against the material being tacked, and a spring mechanism in the stapling head that accumulates and releases high tension on the striker as the tacker’s trigger is pressed down. On some models such as the Stronghold® SHR60 this pressure is also adjustable so that it can be set appropriately for the materials that the staples are embedding.

Where consistent pressure and accurate positioning are less important than speed and extended reach, a hammer tacker such as the Stronghold® SHR11 will generally be used. This converts the kinetic energy of the hammer’s swing to embed the staple.

Stronghold® staples and staplers are available in the UK and Europe exclusively from Southgate® and its network of approved distributors.

For more information please call 01553 69 29 69 or email

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